an interview with Justin Aversano and Brandon Sines
This July, Justin Aversano continues the debut of his new series of photographs titled Twin Flames Enter-Mission at the Lazy Susan Gallery and presents a collection of cyanotypes and C-prints that focus on biological twins. Aversano’s subject is not mundane, and also not seen very often. As a photographer, he seems to be drawn to complex themes that result in images that are both realistic and dream-like. Likewise, Brandon Sines compliments Aversano’s show and presents a new, double rendering of Frank Ape — the happy, urban Sasquatch that initially emerged from Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2011. AS Mag caught up with Sines and Aversano to find out more about their work and unique collaboration.
AS Mag: Frank Ape by Brandon Sines has appeared in the form of posters and stickers around the streets of Lower Manhattan for quite some time. The new mural seen on the metal gate of Lazy Susan Gallery appears site-specific. Did this piece recently go up? What does Frank Ape bring to New York City?
Brandon Sines: The mural on the exterior gate of Lazy Susan Gallery was painted on July 1, 2019. This piece is site-specific as it is the location for Justin’s Twin Flames Enter-Mission show, so I wanted it to be about idea of two people, in this case two ‘Franks’, and the concept of duality and sameness.
Frank is generally sharing messages of positivity and inspiration so the mural includes the text “You’re awesome — No, you are,” as a fun way to celebrate twins but also best friends, family members and even just your inner self. Frank seeks to inspire creativity, spread joy and connect with people of all ages and backgrounds.
AS Mag: Justin, what initially inspired you to photograph twins? Unlike vernacular photography, the subject of twins is not something that is seen everyday.
Justin Aversano: The way the project, Twin Flames, came about was that during a Polaroid exhibition titled, EQUIPOISE, back in February 14th, 2017 there were a set of twins (Ali & Gili Glatt) at the opening; and in that instant when I shot a polaroid ofth em, I knew that I would be starting a new portrait project soon.
Fast forward to April 1st, 2017: my girlfriend at the time broke up with me, and as I was searching for ways to recover, I had looked through a box of polaroids, where I saw the picture I had taken of the Glatt twins. The next day, I reached out to Ali and Gili about a time and location to meet. Twin Flames started on May 31st, 2017.
I was inspired to take on the uncanny subject of twins for two reasons. First, as a healing & spiritual journey to pay respect to, and honor, my mother and fraternal twin who are no longer with us. And secondly, to take on a subject to focus a body of work on, which in respect to the history of photography, had previously been explored by my heroes Diane Arbus and Mary Ellen Mark.
AS: Sometimes the talk about twins sounds rather exotic. Some say that they share an unspoken synchronicity. Did you encounter this during your project?
JA: It is true that there is an unspoken synchronicity in duality. I have witnessed and experienced the communication between all the twins, which leaves me to believe that twins have psychobiological and telekinetic capabilities. It ranges from hearing them finish each other’s sentences to observing their body language, and how they interact without words.
AS: How do you locate your subjects?
JA: When I start planning the photoshoot with the twins, I ask them to please choose a location and outfit that best represents their spirit and personalities.
AS: Has the subject ever altered? Such that, do you find yourself taking pictures of people who look similar but might not be biological twins?
JA: Yes. There was one instance with the 9th set of twins where I was under the impression that they were twins, since they had told me as well as identified as twins. Until after the shoot was over, and we were all on the subway together, they had felt bad and finally told me the truth: that they were not biological twins, but soul twins, because they look identical but are a year apart.
They had told me they grew up with their mother calling them twins. So, as they identified as twins, I stand by their portrait session, without discrimination, and included it in the series to challenge the idea of what being a twin represents. Is it simply a biological phenomenon or can it be spiritual as they had described?
AS: Why Cyanotypes and not color C-prints? Their blurriness triggers a dreamy association that makes me wonder if I’m looking at an event that really happened, or not.
JA: For Twin Flames: Enter-Mission we decided to go in a different and refined route to re-exhibit the 10 Cyanotypes, 3 enlarged pieces from the set, and a special edition of Lo-Fi street art works. For the inaugural exhibition at Superchief Gallery, we had shown Cyanotypes, Polaroids, and C-prints!
AS: What is the subtle connection between the blurry blue and the representations of different pairs of twins?
JA: The 10 Cyanotypes were born from the outtakes that were made during my travels. My ultimate intention was to have Twin Flames be a project created through the lens of classic color portraiture. As I would shoot with analog film cameras, sometimes the film sheets would get mixed up, leading me to shoot some of the portraits in black and white, instead of the intended color. So, having more than 2000 photos from the entire project, I decided to use the mistakes and create something new, unique, and beautiful with one of my favorite colors and fundamental process, Cyanotype!
AS: You recently published a book titled Twin Flames — can you explain that project? How long did it take to pull these images together?
JA: Twin Flames is my healing journey with the intention of connecting and creating with a community of people who share similar experiences. Having come from a twinless tragedy, I wanted to explore the relationships, ideas, psychologies, and dualities of the twin universe, to experience what I had lost and felt my entire life. The project took 2 years to create, it started May 31st, 2017 and was exhibited for the first time on May 31st, 2019.
AS: Where is your book available for sale?
AS: What are some of the most memorable points, or moments, that you came away with?
JA: The entire journey with each set of twins had its own sets of lessons. Whether it be to learn to trust the subjects’ choice on location and outfit, to convey their true character; or, learning how to create anywhere with anyone at anytime — both enhance the creative discipline which makes one a better artist, by challenging one’s awareness and to make something impactful from nothingness.
Jill Conner, New York
Twin Flames is on view thru July 18th at Lazy Susan Gallery, 191 Henry Street